For the second time this week, the Democrat-controlled Senate opposed President Obama on a national security issue -- this time voting unanimously to sanction the Iranian Central Bank.
"The sanctions would prohibit financial institutions that do business with the bank of Iran from opening or maintaining correspondent banking accounts in the United States," explained the office of one of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., in a press release announcing the vote results. "If we are serious about stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, we must be willing to follow the money that feeds its nuclear ambitions and to take real action against the Central Bank of Iran, starving the regime of the resources it needs to advance its terrorist agenda," Menendez said in a statement.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has avoided taking a position on the idea of Iranian bank sanctions -- "we continue to look at all options going forward," he demurred when the United Kingdom sanctioned the bank -- but officials from the Treasury and State Departments argued against the bill today when testifying before Congress ahead of the vote. They "argu[ed] the legislation could have 'unintended consequences' jeopardizing U.S. relations with allies, possibly raise oil prices and further the funding Iran’s nuclear program," according to CSPAN.
The 100-0 Senate vote in favor of the sanctions marks the second time this week that even Democratic members of Congress united against Obama on a national security issue. In defiance of a veto threat from Obama, the Senate voted to allow military detentions of al-Qaeda operatives, even if they are American citizens captured on U.S. soil.